Fosun Pharma (复星医药), one of the largest pharmaceutical and medtech companies in China, yesterday announced that Intuitive Surgical-Fosun, a joint venture it set up with the US surgical robot developer, had secured the approval by China’s FDA to manufacture and market its thoracic and laparoscopic surgical robot system.
The system, a domestically produced version of the world-famous da Vinci surgical robot, can be applied during urological, general, obstetric and thoracic procedures.
The official stamp of approval given to its Chinese-made equivalent will likely slash the manufacturing costs and thus lower the barrier to its wider adoption, market observers say.
A da Vinci system often costs tens of millions of yuan to import, making it a luxury that only a few top-notch hospitals in China can afford.
According to Pan Xiaofeng, CEO of Intuitive Surgical-Fosun, da Vinci is hitherto the world’s most widely used endoscopic robot, featuring 3D, high-resolution scope of view, EndoWrist technology and intuitive motion control.
It eliminates the trembling of surgeon’s hand during manipulation, and the robotic wrist can be bent and rotated to a humanly impossible extent to assist in operations.
“Ever since da Vinci entered China, localization has been at the heart of its strategy,” said Pan.
Last August, construction began on the headquarters and production base of the joint venture, with a total investment exceeding 700 million yuan (US$98 million).
When completed, the facilities are expected to churn out the da Vinci surgical robots in China, facilitate joint research and promote global sales, as per a company statement.
What’s more, da Vinci’s China operations are poised to have broader ramifications beyond the provision of better surgical services.
Experts point out that the presence of Intuitive Surgical-Fosun will likely lead to a surgical robot ecosystem comprising technology, training, service, support and solutions — to the benefit of the domestic healthcare industry and patients alike.